While his father was amused reading a newspaper, eleven year-old Gustavo took a book from the shelf and began flipping through it. Suddenly he stopped and asked:
- Daddy, what is free will?
His father put the newspaper down and took off his glasses:
- Free will, my son, is the ability that humans have to make their own decisions, choose for themselves. Got it?
Full of patience, his father replied:
- For example, Gustavo, tomorrow is Saturday and you have football practice in the afternoon. Are you going?
- I do not know, Dad. I also have an invitation to go to a birthday party at the same time.
- I know. Georgie's birthday, your childhood friend. So? What are you going to do?
Go to the practice or go to the party?
- I think I'm not going to Georgie's party, Daddy. I think I'm going to the practice.
- Oh, so you've decided?
The boy thought a moment and replied:
- Football is a commitment I made earlier in the year and I must not be absent. The team needs me. But then again, Dad, if I'm not at the party, Georgie will get upset with me.
- So, are you going to your friend's birthday?
Gustavo scratched his head, confused, and considered:
- On second thought, there is another problem. Next week our team has an important game, which is part of the championship among schools. Oh, my God! I do not know what to do!
His father smiled and explained:
- Free will is just that, son. Between two or more options, you have to decide. At this point you'll have to solve: pleasure or duty.
- Now I get it, Dad. But it is very difficult to make decisions!
The father agreed with him, recommending that he thought about it until the next day not to make a wrong decision.
- My son, free will is a gift from God, but it is also an achievement of the Spirit in the evolutionary path already performed. So we need to think carefully before making any decision. Be it right or wrong, we are always conditioned by the consequences of our acts, according to the Law of Action and Reaction, or the Law of Cause and Effect.
As it was late, we went to bed.
The following day, Gustavo was sitting at the table eating breakfast when his father asked him:
- So, son? Have you decided?
- I have really thought about it but have not quite decided yet. But until this afternoon, I will.
It was almost time to leave when Gustavo appeared in the living room with his backpack and a wrapped gift in his hand.
- I see you have decided to go to the party, Gustavo. That means that pleasure won - said his father.
The boy shook his head.
- No? Then, you are going to the practice. You chose duty.
Gustavo shook his head again:
- Not that either, Dad.
- I do not understand!
- A third alternative appeared, Dad. I remembered that we have a maths test on Monday. So, I will study at a classmate's home, who understands the subject well.
First, however, I will go to Georgie's house to congratulate him and deliver the gift I bought him. Thus, pleasure and duty shall be equally met.
The father was surprised and amazed. His son Gustavo, who he thought was a bit sloppy with regards to his duties, showed that he was thoughtful and responsible, making decisions skilfully.
He stood up, his arms outstretched to the boy:
- Congratulations, son. You managed to decide between pleasure and duty. But tell me, what about the practice? The team has an important game next week...
Hugging his father with a huge smile on his face, the boy explained:
- It is true, Dad. But I heard earlier today that the game will be postponed. So I had no more doubts. Now I am quiet sure that I did my best.
Gustavo said goodbye to his father and mother, grabbed the backpack with his books, the gift, and waving one last time, shut the door behind him.
His father was happy. He felt accomplished for having a son who had used his free will in such a responsible manner.
Johnny Silveira - firstname.lastname@example.org